Deepfake Video Targeting Ukraine's First Lady Aims to Erode Western Support, Experts Say

Main image to the post Deepfake Video Targeting Ukraine's First Lady Aims to Erode Western Support, Experts Say

A Deepfake Video Targets Ukraine's First Lady

A deepfake video falsely claiming that Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, purchased a $4.8 million Bugatti sports car has garnered millions of views on social media. CBS News has confirmed that the video is part of a Russian disinformation campaign aimed at eroding Western support for Ukraine.

The video, created using artificial intelligence, shows a man claiming to be a French luxury car dealership employee sharing "exclusive" information about the fabricated sale. Telltale signs of AI manipulation include the man's lack of neck movement, infrequent blinking, and minimal head movement.

The video has been widely shared across social media platforms, including X, Telegram, and TikTok, amassing over 20 million views. While X and Telegram did not respond to requests for comment, TikTok has stated that their policies prohibit misinformation that could cause harm and that they remove content violating these guidelines.

Researchers from Recorded Future, a threat intelligence company, have linked the video to a Russian disinformation network called CopyCop. This network utilizes sham news websites and AI tools to publish false claims as part of influence campaigns. An early version of the video appeared on a French website called Verite Cachee (Hidden Truth) on July 1st, accompanied by a fabricated invoice purporting to be from Bugatti.

Bugatti Paris, operated by Autofficina Parigi, has filed a criminal complaint against those who shared the video and forged the invoice. Car Lovers Group, the parent company of Autofficina Parigi, has confirmed that the invoice is not theirs and contains errors indicating fabrication, such as the lack of required legal details and an incorrect price for the vehicle.

This incident is not the first time Russian disinformation networks have targeted Ukrainian leaders with false claims. In the past year, similar false claims have been spread about President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his family, including allegations of purchasing luxury yachts and expensive jewelry.

Experts believe these false stories are designed to undermine Western support for Ukraine and erode trust in its leaders, institutions, and international alliances. They capitalize on existing concerns and documented reports of corruption in Ukraine, playing into a narrative that resonates with a specific audience predisposed to believe and spread such claims.

Despite being debunked, these narratives have gained traction online, likely due to the high-profile nature of the brands involved. The use of luxury brands like Bugatti in these disinformation campaigns adds a layer of credibility and virality, making them more effective in achieving their goals.

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Round userpic of the post author Kenny McCormic
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May 21, 2023 | 05:09